Lords starts further check of Prisoners Bill

02 July 2020

The Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Bill completed its report stage, a chance to closely scrutinise elements of the bill and make changes, on Wednesday 1 July.

Members discussed a range of subjects including a prisoner's mental capacity to disclose information and creating a database of victims' family members.

There were two votes (divisions) on proposed changes (amendments) to the bill.

Members considered a change (amendment 3) which would require the Parole Board to take into account the findings of a Newton hearing (a short hearing held before a judge without a jury to resolve disputed facts before sentencing) regarding the prisoner’s reasons for non-disclosure, if one was held after a verdict or plea of guilty.

Members voted 142 in favour of this amendment and 266 against, so the change was not made.

A second vote was held on a change (amendment 17) to require the Parole Board to create and maintain a database of victim's family members, in order to update them on an offender's parole application.

Members voted 267 in favour and 241 against, so the change was made.

Third reading, a chance for members to make sure the eventual law is effective, workable and without loopholes, is yet to be scheduled.

Lords committee stage: Wednesday 20 May

Members discussed a range of topics relating to a prisoner's hearing, including the rejection of parole applications for non-disclosure or mental health reasons, prisoners' mental capacity to disclose information and provision of information to the victim or victim's family.

Lords second reading: Tuesday 28 April

Lord Keen of Elie (Conservative), Lords spokesperson in the Ministry for Justice, opened the debate and responded on behalf of the government.

Members discussed a range of subjects, including:

  • the legal obligation of the Parole Board to ensure that the non-disclosure of information is always considered when making release assessments
  • support for victims in compiling and presenting evidence to Parole Board panels
  • protection for prisoners with mental health issues and the balance between the need for justice and the respect for human rights.

Bill summary

This bill ensures the Parole Board takes into account circumstances where offenders do not disclose certain details about their offences, specifically the location of victims’ remains and the identity of child victims in indecent images thereby causing additional distress to victims and their families, when assessing whether such an offender should be released from prison.

Further information

Image: PA

More news on: Crime, civil law, justice and rights, Parliament, government and politics, Administration of justice, Parliament, Crime, Crimes of violence, Drugs crimes, Internet and cybercrime, Offensive weapons, Public order offences, Sexual offences, Criminal law, Emergency services, Freedom of information, Human rights, Intelligence services, House of Lords news, Lords news, Bill news, Courts, Legal profession, Alternatives to prison, Anti-social behaviour, Civil law, Freedom of information

Share this page